Download Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Book 4

J.K. Rowling

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Harry Potter is midway through his training as a wizard and his coming of age. Harry wants to get away from the pernicious Dursleys and go to the International Quidditch Cup with Hermione, Ron, and the Weasleys. He wants to dream about Cho Chang, his crush (and maybe do more than dream). He wants to find out about the mysterious event that's supposed to take place at Hogwarts this year, an event involving two other rival schools of magic, and a competition that hasn't happened for hundreds of years. He wants to be a normal, fourteen-year-old wizard. But unfortunately for Harry Potter, he's not normal - even by wizarding standards.

And in his case, different can be deadly.

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CHAPTER ONE

THE RID­DLE HOUSE

The vil­lagers of Lit­tle Hangle­ton still called it “the Rid­dle House,” even though it had been many years since the Rid­dle fam­ily had lived there. It stood on a hill over­look­ing the vil­lage, some of its win­dows board­ed, tiles miss­ing from its roof, and ivy spread­ing unchecked over its face. Once a fine-​look­ing manor, and eas­ily the largest and grand­est build­ing for miles around, the Rid­dle House was now damp, derelict, and un­oc­cu­pied.


     The Lit­tle Hangle­tons all agreed that the old house was “creepy.” Half a cen­tu­ry ago, some­thing strange and hor­ri­ble had hap­pened there, some­thing that the old­er in­hab­itants of the vil­lage still liked to dis­cuss when top­ics for gos­sip were scarce. The sto­ry had been picked over so many times, and had been em­broi­dered in so many places, that no­body was quite sure what the truth was any­more. Ev­ery ver­sion of the tale, how­ev­er, start­ed in the same place: Fifty years be­fore, at day­break on a fine sum­mer's morn­ing when the Rid­dle House had still been well kept and im­pres­sive, a maid had en­tered the draw­ing room to find all three Rid­dles dead.


     The maid had run scream­ing down the hill in­to the vil­lage and roused as many peo­ple as she could.


     “Ly­ing there with their eyes wide open! Cold as ice! Still in their din­ner things!”


     The po­lice were sum­moned, and the whole of Lit­tle Hangle­ton had seethed with shocked cu­rios­ity and ill-​dis­guised ex­cite­ment. No­body wast­ed their breath pre­tend­ing to feel very sad about the Rid­dles, for they had been most un­pop­ular. El­der­ly Mr. and Mrs. Rid­dle had been rich, snob­bish, and rude, and their grown-​up son, Tom, had been, if any­thing, worse. All the vil­lagers cared about was the iden­ti­ty of their mur­der­er - for plain­ly, three ap­par­ent­ly healthy peo­ple did not all drop dead of nat­ural caus­es on the same night.


     The Hanged Man, the vil­lage pub, did a roar­ing trade that night; the whole vil­lage seemed to have turned out to dis­cuss the mur­ders. They were re­ward­ed for leav­ing their fire­sides when the Rid­dles' cook ar­rived dra­mat­ical­ly in their midst and an­nounced to the sud­den­ly silent pub that a man called Frank Bryce had just been ar­rest­ed.


     “Frank!” cried sev­er­al peo­ple. “Nev­er!”


     Frank Bryce was the Rid­dles' gar­den­er. He lived alone in a run-​down cot­tage on the grounds of the Rid­dle House. Frank had come back from the war with a very stiff leg and a great dis­like of crowds and loud nois­es, and had been work­ing for the Rid­dles ev­er since.


     There was a rush to buy the cook drinks and hear more de­tails.


     “Al­ways thought he was odd,” she told the ea­ger­ly lis­ten­ing vil­lagers, af­ter her fourth sher­ry. “Un­friend­ly, like. I'm sure if I've of­fered him a cup­pa once, I've of­fered it a hun­dred times. Nev­er want­ed to mix, he didn't.”


     “Ah, now,” said a wom­an at the bar, “he had a hard war, Frank. He likes the qui­et life. That's no rea­son to -”


     “Who else had a key to the back door, then?” barked the cook. “There's been a spare key hang­ing in the gar­den­er's cot­tage far back as I can re­mem­ber! No­body forced the door last night! No bro­ken win­dows! All Frank had to do was creep up to the big house while we was all sleep­ing…”


     The vil­lagers ex­changed dark looks.


     “I al­ways thought that he had a nasty look about him, right enough,” grunt­ed a man at the bar.


     “War turned him fun­ny, if you ask me,” said the land­lord.


     “Told you I wouldn't like to get on the wrong side of Frank, didn't I, Dot?” said an ex­cit­ed wom­an in the cor­ner.


     “Hor­ri­ble tem­per,” said Dot, nod­ding fer­vent­ly. “I re­mem­ber, when he was a kid…”


     By the fol­low­ing morn­ing, hard­ly any­one in Lit­tle Hangle­ton doubt­ed that Frank Bryce had killed the Rid­dles.


     But over in the neigh­bor­ing town of Great Hangle­ton, in the dark and dingy po­lice sta­tion, Frank was stub­born­ly re­peat­ing, again and again, that he was in­no­cent, and that the on­ly per­son he had seen near the house on the day of the Rid­dles' deaths had been a teenage boy, a stranger, dark-​haired and pale. No­body else in the vil­lage had seen any such boy, and the po­lice were quite sure Frank had in­vent­ed him.


     Then, just when things were look­ing very se­ri­ous for Frank, the re­port on the Rid­dles' bod­ies came back and changed ev­ery­thing.


     The po­lice had nev­er read an odd­er re­port. A team of doc­tors had ex­am­ined the bod­ies and had con­clud­ed that none of the Rid­dles had been poi­soned, stabbed, shot, stran­gles, suf­fo­cat­ed, or (as far as they could tell) harmed at all. In fact (the re­port con­tin­ued, in a tone of un­mis­tak­able be­wil­der­ment), the Rid­dles all ap­peared to be in per­fect health - apart from the fact that they were all dead. The doc­tors did note (as though de­ter­mined to find some­thing wrong with the bod­ies) that each of the Rid­dles had a look of ter­ror up­on his or her face - but as the frus­trat­ed po­lice said, who­ev­er heard of three peo­ple be­ing fright­ened to death?


     As there was no proof that the Rid­dles had been mur­dered at all, the po­lice were forced to let Frank go. The Rid­dles were buried in the Lit­tle Hangle­ton church­yard, and their graves re­mained ob­jects of cu­rios­ity for a while. To ev­ery­one's sur­prise, and amid a cloud of sus­pi­cion, Frank Bryce re­turned to his cot­tage on the grounds of the Rid­dle House.


     “'S far as I'm con­cerned, he killed them, and I don't care what the po­lice say,” said Dot in the Hanged Man. “And if he had any de­cen­cy, he'd leave here, know­ing as how we knows he did it.”


     But Frank did not leave. He stayed to tend the gar­den for the next fam­ily who lived in the Rid­dle House, and then the next - for nei­ther fam­ily stayed long. Per­haps it was part­ly be­cause of Frank that the new own­ers said there was a nasty feel­ing about the place, which, in the ab­sence of in­hab­itants, start­ed to fall in­to dis­re­pair.



The wealthy man who owned the Rid­dle House these days nei­ther lived there nor put it to any use; they said in the vil­lage that he kept it for “tax rea­sons,” though no­body was very clear what these might be. The wealthy own­er con­tin­ued to pay Frank to do the gar­den­ing, how­ev­er. Frank was near­ing his sev­en­ty-​sev­enth birth­day now, very deaf, his bad leg stiffer than ev­er, but could be seen pot­ter­ing around the flow­er beds in fine weath­er, even though the weeds were start­ing to creep up on him, try as he might to sup­press them.


     Weeds were not the on­ly things Frank had to con­tend with ei­ther. Boys from the vil­lage made a habit of throw­ing stones through the win­dows of the Rid­dle House. They rode their bi­cy­cles over the lawns Frank worked so hard to keep smooth. Once or twice, they broke in­to the old house for a dare. They knew that old Frank's de­vo­tion to the house and the grounds amount­ed al­most to an ob­ses­sion, and it amused them to see him limp­ing across the gar­den, bran­dish­ing his stick and yelling croak­ily at them. Frank, for his part, be­lieved the boys tor­ment­ed him be­cause they, like their par­ents and grand­par­ents, though him a mur­der­er. So when Frank awoke one night in Au­gust and saw some­thing very odd up at the old house, he mere­ly as­sumed that the boys had gone one step fur­ther in their at­tempts to pun­ish him.


     It was Frank's bad leg that woke him; it was pain­ing him worse than ev­er in his old age. He got up and limped down­stairs in­to the kitchen with the idea of re­fill­ing his hot-​wa­ter bot­tle to ease the stiff­ness in his knee. Stand­ing at the sink, fill­ing the ket­tle, he looked up at the Rid­dle House and saw lights glim­mer­ing in its up­per win­dows. Frank knew at once what was go­ing on. The boys had bro­ken in­to the house again, and judg­ing by the flick­er­ing qual­ity of the light, they had start­ed a fire.


     Frank had no tele­phone, in any case, he had deeply mis­trust­ed the po­lice ev­er since they had tak­en him in for ques­tion­ing about the Rid­dles' deaths. He put down the ket­tle at once, hur­ried back up­stairs as fast as his bad leg would al­low, and was soon back in his kitchen, ful­ly dressed and re­mov­ing a rusty old key from its hook by the door. He picked up his walk­ing stick, which was propped against the wall, and set off in­to the night.


     The front door of the Rid­dle House bore no sign of be­ing forced, nor did any of the win­dows. Frank limped around to the back of the house un­til he reached a door al­most com­plete­ly hid­den by ivy, took out the old key, put it in­to the lock, and opened the door noise­less­ly.


     He let him­self in­to the cav­ernous kitchen. Frank had not en­tered it for many years; nev­er­the­less, al­though it was very dark, he re­mem­bered where the door in­to the hall was, and he groped his way to­wards it, his nos­trils full of the smell of de­cay, ears pricked for any sound of foot­steps or voic­es from over­head. He reached the hall, which was a lit­tle lighter ow­ing to the large mul­lioned win­dows on ei­ther side of the front door, and start­ed to climb the stairs, bless­ing the dust that lay thick up­on the stone, be­cause it muf­fled the sound of his feet and stick.


     On the land­ing, Frank turned right, and saw at once where the in­trud­ers were: At the ev­ery end of the pas­sage a door stood ajar, and a flick­er­ing light shone through the gap, cast­ing a long sliv­er of gold across the black floor. Frank edged clos­er and clos­er, he was able to see a nar­row slice of the room be­yond.


     The fire, he now saw, had been lit in the grate. This sur­prised him. Then he stopped mov­ing and lis­tened in­tent­ly, for a man's voice spoke with­in the room; it sound­ed timid and fear­ful.


     “There is a lit­tle more in the bot­tle, My Lord, if you are still hun­gry.”


     “Lat­er,” said a sec­ond voice. This too be­longed to a man - but it was strange­ly high-​pitched, and cold as a sud­den blast of icy wind. Some­thing about that voice made the sparse hairs on the back of Frank's neck stand up. “Move me clos­er to the fire, Worm­tail.”


     Frank turned his right ear to­ward the door, the bet­ter to hear. There came the clink of a bot­tle be­ing put down up­on some hard sur­face, and then the dull scrap­ing noise of a heavy chair be­ing dragged across the floor. Frank caught a glimpse of a small man, his back to the door, push­ing the chair in­to place. He was wear­ing a long black cloak, and there was a bald patch at the back of his head. Then he went out of sight again.


     “Where is Nagi­ni?” said the cold voice.


     “I - I don't know, My Lord,” said the first voice ner­vous­ly. “She set out to ex­plore the house, I think…”


     “You will milk her be­fore we re­tire, Worm­tail,” said the sec­ond voice. “I will need feed­ing in the night. The jour­ney has tired me great­ly.”


     Brow fur­rowed, Frank in­clined his good ear still clos­er to the door, lis­ten­ing very hard. There was a pause, and then the man called Worm­tail spoke again.


     “My Lord, may I ask how long we are go­ing to stay here?”


     “A week,” said the cold voice. “Per­haps longer. The place is mod­er­ate­ly com­fort­able, and the plan can­not pro­ceed yet. It would be fool­ish to act be­fore the Quid­ditch World Cup is over.”


     Frank in­sert­ed a gnarled fin­ger in­to his ear and ro­tat­ed it. Ow­ing, no doubt, to a buildup of ear­wax, he had heard the word “Quid­ditch,” which was not a word at all.


     “The - the Quid­ditch World Cup, My Lord?” said Worm­tail. (Frank dug his fin­ger still more vig­or­ous­ly in­to his ear.) “For­give me, but - I do not un­der­stand - why should we wait un­til the World Cup is over?”


     “Be­cause, fool, at this very mo­ment wiz­ards are pour­ing in­to the coun­try from all over the world, and ev­ery med­dler from the Min­istry of Mag­ic will be on du­ty, on the watch for signs of un­usu­al ac­tiv­ity, check­ing and dou­ble-​check­ing iden­ti­ties. They will be ob­sessed with se­cu­ri­ty, lest the Mug­gles no­tice any­thing. So we wait.”


     Frank stopped try­ing to clear out his ear. He had dis­tinct­ly heard the words “Min­istry of Mag­ic,” “wiz­ards,” and “Mug­gles.” Plain­ly, each of these ex­pres­sions meant some­thing se­cret, and Frank could think of on­ly two sorts of peo­ple who would speak in code: spies and crim­inals. Frank tight­ened his hold on his walk­ing stick once more, and lis­tened more close­ly still.


     “Your Lord­ship is still de­ter­mined, then?” Worm­tail said qui­et­ly.


     “Cer­tain­ly I am de­ter­mined, Worm­tail.” There was a note of men­ace in the cold voice now.


     A slight pause fol­lowed - and the Worm­tail spoke, the words tum­bling from him in a rush, as though he was forc­ing him­self to say this be­fore he lost his nerve.


     “It could be done with­out Har­ry Pot­ter, My Lord.”


     An­oth­er pause, more pro­tract­ed, and then -


     “With­out Har­ry Pot­ter?” breathed the sec­ond voice soft­ly. “I see…”


     “My Lord, I do not say this out of con­cern for the boy!” said Worm­tail, his voice ris­ing squeak­ily. “The boy is noth­ing to me, noth­ing at all! It is mere­ly that if we were to use an­oth­er witch or wiz­ard - any wiz­ard - the thing could be done so much more quick­ly! If you al­lowed me to leave you for a short while - you know that I can dis­guise my­self most ef­fec­tive­ly - I could be back here in as lit­tle as two days with a suit­able per­son -”


     “I could use an­oth­er wiz­ard,” said the cold voice soft­ly, “that is true…”


     “My Lord, it makes sense,” said Worm­tail, sound­ing thor­ough­ly re­lieved now. “Lay­ing hands on Har­ry Pot­ter would be so dif­fi­cult, he is so well pro­tect­ed -”


     “And so you vol­un­teer to go and fetch me a sub­sti­tute? I won­der…per­haps the task of nurs­ing me has be­come weari­some for you, Worm­tail? Could this sug­ges­tion of aban­don­ing the plan be noth­ing more than an at­tempt to desert me?”


     “My Lord! I - I have no wish to leave you, none at all -”


     “Do not lie to me!” hissed the sec­ond voice. “I can al­ways tell, Worm­tail! You are re­gret­ting that you ev­er re­turned to me. I re­volt you. I see you flinch when you look at me, feel you shud­der when you touch me…”


     “No! My de­vo­tion to Your Lord­ship -”


     “Your de­vo­tion is noth­ing more than cow­ardice. You would not be here if you had any­where else to go. How am I to sur­vive with­out you, when I need feed­ing ev­ery few hours? Who is to milk Nagi­ni?”


     “But you seem so much stronger, My Lord -”


     “Liar,” breathed the sec­ond voice. “I am no stronger, and a few days alone would be enough to rob me of the lit­tle health I have re­gained un­der your clum­sy care. Si­lence!”


     Worm­tail, who had been sput­ter­ing in­co­her­ent­ly, fell silent at once. For a few sec­onds, Frank could hear noth­ing but the fire crack­ling. The sec­ond man spoke once more, in a whis­per that was al­most a hiss.


     “I have my rea­sons for us­ing the boy, as I have al­ready ex­plained to you, and I will use no oth­er. I have wait­ed thir­teen years. A few more months will make no dif­fer­ence. As for the pro­tec­tion sur­round­ing the boy, I be­lieve my plan will be ef­fec­tive. All that is need­ed is a lit­tle courage from you, Worm­tail - courage you will find, un­less you wish to feel the full ex­tent of Lord Vol­der­mort's wrath -”


     “My Lord, I must speak!” said Worm­tail, pan­ic in his voice now. “All through our jour­ney I have gone over the plan in my head - My Lord, Bertha Jorkin's dis­ap­pear­ance will not go un­no­ticed for long, and if we pro­ceed, if I mur­der -”


     “If?” whis­pered the sec­ond voice. “If? If you fol­low the plan, Worm­tail, the Min­istry need nev­er know that any­one else has died. You will do it qui­et­ly and with­out fuss; I on­ly wish that I could do it my­self, but in my present con­di­tion…Come, Worm­tail, one more death and our path to Har­ry Pot­ter is clear. I am not ask­ing you to do it alone. By that time, my faith­ful ser­vant will have re­joined us -”


     “I am a faith­ful ser­vant,” said Worm­tail, the mer­est trace of sul­len­ness in his voice.


     “Worm­tail, I need some­body with brains, some­body whose loy­al­ty has nev­er wa­vered, and you, un­for­tu­nate­ly, ful­fill nei­ther re­quire­ment.”


     “I found you,” said Worm­tail, and there was def­inite­ly a sulky edge to his voice now. “I was the one who found you. I brought you Bertha Jorkins.”


     “That is true,” said the sec­ond man, sound­ing amused. “A stroke of bril­liance I would not have thought pos­si­ble from you, Worm­tail - though, if truth be told, you were not aware how use­ful she would be when you caught her, were you?”


     “I - I thought she might be use­ful, My Lord -”


     “Liar,” said the sec­ond voice again, the cru­el amuse­ment more pro­nounced than ev­er. “How­ev­er, I do not de­ny that her in­for­ma­tion was in­valu­able. With­out it, I could nev­er have formed our plan, and for that, you will have your re­ward, Worm­tail. I will al­low you to per­form an es­sen­tial task for me, one that many of my fol­low­ers would give their right hands to per­form…”


     “R-​re­al­ly, My Lord? What -?” Worm­tail sound­ed ter­ri­fied again.


     “Ah, Worm­tail, you don't want me to spoil the sur­prise? Your part will come at the very end…but I promise you, you will have the hon­or of be­ing just as use­ful as Bertha Jorkins.”


     “You…you…” Worm­tail's voice sud­den­ly sound­ed hoarse, as though his mouth had gone very dry. “You…are go­ing…to kill me too?”


     “Worm­tail, Worm­tail,” said the cold voice silk­ily, “why would I kill you? I killed Bertha be­cause I had to. She was fit for noth­ing af­ter my ques­tion­ing, quite use­less. In any case, awk­ward ques­tions would have been asked if she had gone back to the Min­istry with the news that she had met you on her hol­idays. Wiz­ards who are sup­posed to be dead would do well not to run in­to Min­istry of Mag­ic witch­es at way­side inns…”


     Worm­tail mut­tered some­thing so qui­et­ly that Frank could not hear it, but it made the sec­ond man laugh - an en­tire­ly mirth­less laugh, cold as his speech.


     “We could have mod­ified her mem­ory? But Mem­ory Charms can be bro­ken by a pow­er­ful wiz­ard, as I proved when I ques­tioned her. It would be an in­sult to her mem­ory not to use the in­for­ma­tion I ex­tract­ed from her, Worm­tail.”


     Out in the cor­ri­dor, Frank sud­den­ly be­came aware that the hand grip­ping his walk­ing stick was slip­pery with sweat. The man with the cold voice had killed a wom­an. He was talk­ing about it with­out any kind of re­morse - with amuse­ment. He was dan­ger­ous - a mad­man. And he was plan­ning more mur­ders - this boy, Har­ry Pot­ter, who­ev­er he was - was in dan­ger -


     Frank knew what he must do. Now, if ev­er, was the time to go to the po­lice. He would creep out of the house and head straight for the tele­phone box in the vil­lage…but the cold voice was speak­ing again, and Frank re­mained where he was, frozen to the spot, lis­ten­ing with all his might.


     “One more mur­der…my faith­ful ser­vant at Hog­warts…Har­ry Pot­ter is as good as mine, Worm­tail. It is de­cid­ed. There will be no more ar­gu­ment. But qui­et…I think I hear Nagi­ni…”


     And the sec­ond man's voice changed. He start­ed mak­ing nois­es such as Frank had nev­er heard be­fore; he was hiss­ing and spit­ting with­out draw­ing breath. Frank thought he must be hav­ing some sort of fit or seizure.


     And then Frank heard move­ment be­hind him in the dark pas­sage­way. He turned to look, and found him­self par­alyzed with fright.


     Some­thing was slith­er­ing to­ward him along the dark cor­ri­dor floor, and as it drew near­er to the sliv­er of fire­light, he re­al­ized with a thrill of ter­ror that it was a gi­gan­tic snake, at least twelve feet long. Hor­ri­fied, trans­fixed, Frank stared as its un­du­lat­ing body cut a wide, curv­ing track through the thick dust on the floor, com­ing clos­er and clos­er - What was he to do? The on­ly means of es­cape was in­to the room where the two men sat plot­ting mur­der, yet if he stayed where he was the snake would sure­ly kill him -


     But be­fore he had made his de­ci­sion, the snake was lev­el with him, and then, in­cred­ibly, mirac­ulous­ly, it was pass­ing; it was fol­low­ing the spit­ting, hiss­ing nois­es made by the cold voice be­yond the door, and in sec­onds, the tip of its di­amond-​pat­terned tail had van­ished through the gap.


     There was sweat on Frank's fore­head now, and the hand on the walk­ing stick was trem­bling. In­side the room, the cold voice was con­tin­uing to hiss, and Frank was vis­it­ed by a strange idea, an im­pos­si­ble idea…This man could talk to snakes.


     Frank didn't un­der­stand what was go­ing on. He want­ed more than any­thing to be back in his bed with his hot-​wa­ter bot­tle. The prob­lem was that his legs didn't seem to want to move. As he stood there shak­ing and try­ing to mas­ter him­self, the cold voice switched abrupt­ly to En­glish again.


     “Nagi­ni has in­ter­est­ing news, Worm­tail,” it said.


     “In-​in­deed, My Lord?” said Worm­tail.


     “In­deed, yes,” said the voice, “Ac­cord­ing to Nagi­ni, there is an old Mug­gle stand­ing right out­side this room, lis­ten­ing to ev­ery word we say.”


     Frank didn't have a chance to hide him­self. There were foot­steps and then the door of the room was flung wide open.


     A short, bald­ing man with gray­ing hair, a point­ed nose, and small, wa­tery eyes stood be­fore Frank, a mix­ture of fear and alarm in his face.


     “In­vite him in­side, Worm­tail. Where are your man­ners?”


     The cold voice was com­ing from the an­cient arm­chair be­fore the fire, but Frank couldn't see the speak­er. the snake, on the oth­er hand, was curled up on the rot­ting hearth rug, like some hor­ri­ble trav­es­ty of a pet dog.


     Worm­tail beck­oned Frank in­to the room. Though still deeply shak­en, Frank took a firmer grip on his walk­ing stick and limped over the thresh­old.


     The fire was the on­ly source of light in the room; it cast long, spi­dery shad­ows up­on the walls. Frank stared at the back of the arm­chair; the man in­side it seemed to be even small­er than his ser­vant, for Frank couldn't even see the back of his head.


     “You heard ev­ery­thing, Mug­gle?” said the cold voice.


     “What's that you're call­ing me?” said Frank de­fi­ant­ly, for now that he was in­side the room, now that the time had come for some sort of ac­tion, he felt braver; it had al­ways been so in the war.


     “I am call­ing you a Mug­gle,” said the voice cool­ly. “It means that you are not a wiz­ard.”


     “I don't know what you mean by wiz­ard,” said Frank, his voice grow­ing stead­ier. “All I know is I've heard enough to in­ter­est the po­lice tonight, I have. You've done mur­der and you're plan­ning more! And I'll tell you this too,” he added, on a sud­den in­spi­ra­tion, “my wife knows I'm up here, and if I don't come back -”


     “You have no wife,” said the cold voice, very qui­et­ly. “No­body knows you are here. You told no­body that you were com­ing. Do not lie to Lord Volde­mort, Mug­gle, for he knows…he al­ways knows…”


     “Is that right?” said Frank rough­ly. “Lord, is it? Well, I don't think much of your man­ners, My Lord. Turn 'round and face me like a man, why don't you?”


     “But I am not a man, Mug­gle,” said the cold voice, bare­ly au­di­ble now over the crack­ling of the flames. “I am much, much more than a man. How­ev­er…why not? I will face you…Worm­tail, come turn my chair around.”


     The ser­vant gave a whim­per.


     “You heard me, Worm­tail.”


     Slow­ly, with his face screwed up, as though he would rather have done any­thing than ap­proach his mas­ter and the hearth rug where the snake lay, the small man walked for­ward and be­gan to turn the chair. The snake lift­ed its ug­ly tri­an­gu­lar head and hissed slight­ly as the legs of the chair snagged on its rug.


     And then the chair was fac­ing Frank, and he saw what was sit­ting in it. His walk­ing stick fell to the floor with a clat­ter. He opened his mouth and let out a scream. He was scream­ing so loud­ly that he nev­er heard the words the thing in the chair spoke as it raised a wand. There was a flash of green light, a rush­ing sound, and Frank Bryce crum­pled. He was dead be­fore he hit the floor.


     Two hun­dred miles away, the boy called Har­ry Pot­ter woke with a start.